Ways We’re Making Our Finances Healthy

This year, instead of making a resolution for the the new year, I decided to choose a theme. You can read more about this here. Because my theme for the year is healthy living, I would like to dedicate a post each month on what I am working on and how it relates to my theme. This month, Jerry and are really looking closer at our finances. We have some bills we need to pay off and we need to find ways to save money. These are some of these things we are focusing on to get our finances healthy and they have already been paying off. We are hoping some of these tips will be helpful to you as well. If you have any other ideas for us, please comment! Let’s get started Lovelies.

1. Taking my calculator to the grocery store.

Talk about a wake up call! When I am not calculating what I am spending at the grocery store, it is so easy to just throw any and everything in the cart. Before I know it, I have spent way more than I intended too. Just this simple strategy has been a huge help. Knowing exactly how much I am spending and how close I am to my budget helps deter me from overspending and adding all those little extra things that I don’t really need.

2. Eating out only once a week.

I love to eat out, I’ll admit it. With both of us in grad school, parenting, and our commitments to church, we have been eating out or getting take out way to much. Plus eating out with a family of 5 costs a fortune! Especially when 2 of our boys eat as much as grown men! Fortunately, I finished up my 2nd masters in December and Jerry will be finished with his this summer! So there has been some relief for our busy schedules, with more in the near future. By committing to eating out only once a week, we are saving a lot of money.

3. Making our lattes at home.

On top of my terrible eating out addiction, I have a coffee addiction too. A $4 latte everyday really begins to add up. For Christmas I received a little stove top espresso maker, which I love! (This is the one I got The Original Bialetti Moka Express Made in Italy 3-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker with Patented Valve) This has made making lattes at home simple and fun. I have been experimenting with different syrups and have also started watching videos on how to do latte art. So I’m saving money and having fun with this one!

4. Finding free ways to have fun.

We have had Disney passes for the last two years, which we have thoroughly enjoyed. However, we realize that in order to save money, the passes need to go. Instead we are looking for ways to have fun for free (or at least for very little). We love to be outdoors, so we are looking forward to going to parks , kayaking, and going to local events that cost little to no money.

5. Getting creative with things we already have around the house.

Finally, we are looking at ways we can reuse and repurpose things we already have around the house. For example, we are looking at repurposing some old wood to be make backdrops for product photography.

6. Keeping our bills organized with a notebook.

For this one, I have to give my mom the credit. When Jerry and I first got married, my mom showed me how she kept track of the bills with a notebook. This way she knew exactly what was coming in and what was going out. Over the years with online banking, I got away from this. However, I realize how important it is to keep better track, so I dusted off my notebook and am using it again! This has helped give me a better picture of our finances as a whole and I plan to continue to use this method for years to come!

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My Theme for 2018

The idea of creating a theme for the new year instead of a resolution is one that has been popping up all over the blogging community. I first read an article on this several weeks ago and thought to myself, “sounds interesting.” You can read the first blog I read about themes for the new year over at joi-knows-how.com. I have never been one to really make New Years resolutions. It’s not that I’m against them or anything (unlike my husband who made a resolution to not have New Years resolutions anymore and he has stuck to it ever since! LOL), but I just don’t really stick with them. Instead I find myself creating goals, getting myself in check, and reflecting throughout the year. This is why the thought of a theme is so alluring.

You may be wondering to yourself what exactly I’m talking about. You are not alone in this. I didn’t really get the whole theme idea at first either. Basically a theme for the upcoming year means choosing an area of focus and incorporating changes into your life that build upon that focus. For example some of the themes floating around out there focus on self care, financial freedom, or health. Those who are choosing themes are not creating goals per say, but rather incorporating many things into their daily lives that represent their theme. Let’s delve a little deeper by taking a closer look at my theme for this year, healthy living.

I’m choosing this theme because it literally encompasses all aspects of my life physically, spiritually, and mentally. 2017 has been an absolute whirlwind in which all things healthy have fallen to the wayside. Truth is I’ve been so busy trying to get through each day that surviving became my only focus. This probably has a lot to do with finishing up my second masters degree, launching a business, and starting a blog all the while keeping up with my other commitments and responsibilities. Now that I’m finished with my degree I hope to have more time to focus on other areas of my life. This year I don’t want to just survive, I want to grow and thrive!

By focusing on healthy living, I’m not just talking about eating well and exercising (although this will be a part of my theme for this year as well). For me getting healthy goes beyond this, I want healthy living to seep into everything I do. I’m going to take a closer look at getting our finances on track, spending more time in God’s Word, reading a book (or 2), writing, getting more rest, drinking more water, spending more time investing in my relationships, and the list could go on! See, by choosing a theme instead of a resolution, I can concentrate on so much more. I will feel successful any time I do something that incorporates my theme. With a theme for the new year, success doesn’t come at the end when I check off the boxes, success comes each time I take a step in the right direction! How bout you? Are you making a resolution or going with a theme this year?

Happy New Year!

Why I Struggle to Blog Consistently and How I’m Going To Change That!

Blogging is something that I have absolutely grown to love over the recent months. I’m just having one small problem…I’m not consistent. Honestly it’s not a small problem, it’s a HUGE problem, especially when starting a business in which I’m getting little traffic. Which is unfortunate, because lydiaandlilac.com has so many amazing things! I realize I need to boost my SEO and one of the best ways to do that is through my blog. So, why am I not consistent and what am I going to do about it? Read on to find out my friend!

The reason I have such a difficult time being consistent is time. I know many of you can relate! I honestly have so many ideas, so many things I want to share. I just don’t always have the time to get my thoughts down. I have several things that I am putting into practice to become more consistent with my blogging. Here’s my list:

1. Set a goal to get at least one blog post in each week.

I know I should probably be blogging more than this, but right now this is something I know I can achieve. At this point in my life more than ever, I need to make sure the goals I set are achievable. If not, I have a really hard time sticking with them.

2. Take advantage of my phone.

So, I purchased my first iPhone this summer. (I know, welcome to the 21st Century Michelle!) I do my best thinking when I’m in the car driving, so I’m taking advantage of my phone’s ability to create lists for me. This way I have a list of blogging ideas that I can refer back to later.

3. Remember that it’s ok to have short posts.

When I first started blogging, I thought that I needed longer posts. Since then I have learned it’s about quality not quantity. Honestly, sometimes less is more!

4. Create a schedule.

Ok, so I have my goal and I have my list of ideas. Another way to help me stick with it, is to have my post ideas scheduled out. This reduces time I spend mulling over what I want to write about each week. There are still times I may feel like writing due to emotion or something that has just happened, but there are also times that I’m really tired and the less decisions I have to make in those moments, the better.

5. Have fun!

Most importantly, I need to remember not to put so much pressure on myself. I tend to be really hard on myself, which is something I have been trying to work on. My recent motto has become, “Michelle, you are only one person.” I have so much going on and I need to remember that I started blogging as a creative outlet, not to add more stress to my life.

Do you have other ideas about how to become a more consistent blogger? Please share!

The Reasons Why I’m Shopping Small this Christmas and Why You Should Too!

I love shopping for others during the holidays. Giving gifts is a way to show someone else that you care for them. And yes, I will be dressing in my Christmas attire, heading out during the wee hours of the morning on Black Friday, and checking off a few of my boxes on my Christmas list. After all, shopping Black Friday has become a tradition for the girls in my family. However, this year I will be shopping small as much as I can! Why, you ask? Read on to find out my friend!

I get to support someone’s dream. You see, each small business represents someone dream. There is always a person, a family, a story behind each one. Our family loves these stories! We love that each time we make a purchase from the small shops we have grown to love, we are supporting someone’s dream and helping it become a reality! What a fantastic feeling!

You find unique items you can’t find anywhere else. Of course there will Buzz-Saw Louie at every store and everyone you know will be getting one (yes that is a Veggie Tales reference! If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can click here.), but what about giving something different for a change? My sister is the best gift giver ever! She always finds something thoughtful and unique. I have learned so much from her over the years and have really been trying to put more thought into what I give. You know, not just giving to give. Shopping small gives me options for gift giving that I simply can’t get in department stores.

I can finally find something for the difficult ones. Let’s face it, some people are just hard to shop for. Because small businesses have unique products, I’m able to find something for those who want things in even the most unique niche.

Many small businesses are now located online. Honestly, a lot of the small businesses I will be buying from this year are online. This is great for me, because I cannot stand the traffic this time of year! Shopping online means I don’t have to worry about traffic at all. In fact I’m able to do most of my shopping after my boys are tucked snuggly in their beds and from the comfort of my couch. Score!

There are so many reasons to shop small this holiday season and we only scratched the surface. If your looking for gifts for her this year, check out lydiaandlilac.com today! What are some of your reasons for shopping small this year?